My previous experience with photography is probably pretty typical of other young people growing up in this generation inundated with technology. That being said, my skills and knowledge with photography definitely lean more towards the side of basic proficiency, and principally consist of pictures taken on my phone. Growing up during the era in which Apps such as Instagram and VSCO were growing in popularity influenced my interaction with photography. Personal photo taking and sharing was becoming not only trendy and popular, but the norm. And these applications have grown alongside improving technologies in cell phones, especially their cameras. These innovations have allowed the everyday user, perhaps without any photography experience, to have the access and ability to become photographers (to a degree). Today, most of my experience with photography still consists of taking pictures with my phone, however my skills have grown in the arena of editing photos. I mainly take pictures of my friends, pets, vacations, or aesthetic scenery. Like I said, pretty basic stuff. I used to think that I was really good at taking pictures, especially when I had the opportunity to travel to some incredible destinations like France, Italy, Costa Rica, and St. Maarten. But through the readings this week and reflection about photography as a whole, my perspective changed. I realized that I thought the pictures were great pictures because my subject matter was great – The Coliseum, The Eiffel Tower, tropical beaches and oceans – subjects that are inherently photogenic. My pictures of them didn’t become good just because I was taking a picture of something important or pretty. In my opinion, those pictures could have become great if I had put some more thought behind them.
My approach to taking photos is that I don’t have one. I have never been the kind of person to plan out a photo, to critically think about the composition, or to wonder about incorporating stylistic elements (except to a very minimal degree). I usually see a moment I want to remember or think is beautiful, and then just take out my phone and capture it. Of course, I try to make it look good in the best way I can, but that is usually confined to making sure the subject is in focus, the picture isn’t crooked, and that it if is dark outside – use flash. As I said, I don’t usually go into taking a photo with the mindset of capturing an emotion or story within it, but rather my mind makes that part up after the fact. When I see a photo, I attribute emotion and a story to it based on the way it makes me feel. At the time a photo was taken, there could be a completely different feeling attached to it compared to when I look at it weeks or months later. That’s why I found the article Becoming a Better Photographer: Telling Stories in Photos eye-opening and insightful.
As I mentioned previously, I think that the way I grew up with Instagram and phone technology maybe distracted me from how special creating a picture could be. Because it was always at my fingertips, maybe I didn’t consider it to be as special as it can be with some thinking behind it. I knew the difference between my amateur, personal photos and actual good pictures, but ultimately I never thought about how pictures go from okay to memorable. I think that the general guidance offered in the above article provides a great place to start. Paying attention to elements such as:
can really help elevate a photo. Ultimately, good photography requires a bit of thought and planning behind it. Sometimes, you are just in the right place at the right time, but more often I feel that you need to consider elements such as these in order for a photo be more impactful and successful in telling its intended story.
***Thankfully, through the Photoblitz exercise I completed this week, I got the opportunity to try and apply these principles to some of my own photos. I definitely feel like I have a deeper understanding of photography and its role in storytelling.
Even though I just criticized my photography skills, I’m still going to include some pictures I have taken just to show my style of photography. It’ll be nice to look back and see how my style has evolved at a later date!